Imperiale Selbstüberhebung

Von den Vereinigten Staaten, die von sich selbst behaupten, einzigartig zu sein, wird normalerweise angenommen, dass sie frei von jeglichen historischen Analogien seien. Doch werden Vergleiche mit dem Schicksal früherer Imperien immer häufiger.

Vor kurzem verblüffte mich eine Entsprechung aus der deutschen Geschichte: die desaströse deutsche Führung während des Ersten Weltkriegs, deren Inbegriff Kaiser Wilhelm II. war. Wilhelm bestieg 1888 im Alter von 29 Jahren den Thron. Sein liberaler Vater hatte 88 Tage regiert, bevor er an Kehlkopfkrebs verstarb. Unter seinem Großvater Wilhelm I. waren Preußens militärische Siege errungen worden, durch die Bismarck 1871 das Reich vereinen konnte. Innerhalb von zwei Jahren entließ Wilhelm II. Bismarck.

Wilhelm II. wurde Machthaber eines Landes, das sich auf dem Höhepunkt seiner Überlegenheit in Europa befand. In den 90er Jahren des 19. Jahrhunderts war Deutschland zur stärksten Macht auf dem Kontinent geworden. Aber Macht erzeugt Widerstand, und Deutschlands alarmierte Nachbarn begannen, Verteidigungsbündnisse zu schmieden.

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